Why is Florida important to 2020 election? Historically, presidents don’t win without the Sunshine State

Calvin Coolidge was president to win presidential election without taking Florida

The election is 50 days out and both candidates-- President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden-- are spending time in Florida.

But why is Florida so critical in the election? One historian tells News 6, it’s because the state is up for grabs, and for the incumbent, Trump, he needs Florida to win.

“Donald Trump knows he has to carry Florida if he’s to have any chance of winning reelection,” University of Central Florida professor Jim Clark said.

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Clark, a UCF historian and political analyst, said it’s been almost 100 years since a Republican has won the White House without taking the state of Florida.

The last time it happened was in 1924 with President Calvin Coolidge, said Clark.

When it comes to Florida and it’s 29 electoral votes, the Interstate 4 corridor, through Central Florida to Tampa, is key in determining which way the purple state goes.

“They will determine who wins Florida; since 1996, whoever wins the majority of those seven counties has gone to the White House,” said Clark.

The I-4 corridor counties include Pinellas, Hillsborough, Polk, Osceola, Orange, Seminole and Volusia.

Clark said, right now, he knows Osceola and Orange County will go Democratic, and Polk County will go Republican. But he said the other counties are up in the air.

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In the 2016 General Election, Seminole County’s numbers show Donald Trump took 48.1% of the vote, with Hillary Clinton taking 46.55%.

But Clark said for this election, “Seminole has been trending blue, trending Democratic now for several years.”

Another reason Florida plays an important role, according to Clark, is its east coast location, which means early reporting on Election night.

“That’s going to affect people in western states, if you think your candidates already lost, are you going to be motivated to go to the polls and vote?” said Clark.

He also said he expects both candidates to spend record amounts in Florida campaigning ahead of the November election.

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